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Posts Tagged ‘Jim Harbaugh’

Chris Wormley drafted 74th overall by Baltimore Ravens

Friday, April 28th, 2017


After seeing two Wolverines drafted in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Michigan had to wait until the third round for the next. Jim Harbaugh’s brother John came to the rescue, selecting defensive lineman Chris Wormley 74th overall on Friday night to the Baltimore Ravens.

Wormley started 30 games throughout his Michigan career, recording 123 tackles, 33 tackles for loss, 18 sacks, one fumble recovery, and two pass breakups. He was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches in 2016 and third-team in 2015. He also received Michigan’s Richard Katcher Award as the team’s top defensive lineman both years.

The Toledo, Ohio native ranked second on the team with six sacks and lead the team with three blocked kicks as a fifth-year senior in 2016. In Week 2, he notched seven tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack, and two blocked field goals against UCF. He recorded four of his five quarterback hurries for the season against Michigan State. He also rose to the occasion in the big games, recording 4.5 sacks in the games against Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio State.

In Baltimore, Wormley will fill a hole on the defensive line left by the departures of Lawrence Guy and Timmy Jernigan. He joins former teammate and fellow defensive lineman Willie Henry on the Ravens roster. Henry was drafted in the fourth round (132nd overall) a year ago.

Taco Charlton drafted 28th overall by Dallas Cowboys

Thursday, April 27th, 2017


After Jabrill Peppers was drafted by the Cleveland Browns 25th overall, Michigan didn’t have to wait long for another Wolverine to hear his name called on Thursday night as defensive end Taco Charlton was picked 28th overall by the Dallas Cowboys.

Charlton was an All-Big Ten first team selection last season after leading the team and ranking 14th nationally with 9.5 sacks, despite missing two games with an injured ankle. He recorded a sack in seven of his final 10 games and each of his final four, turning in his best performance of the season against Ohio State when he made nine tackles, three tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks. He was also all over the Florida State backfield in the Orange Bowl, recording two tackles for loss, a sack, and a pass breakup.

The Pickerington, Ohio native notched 94 career tackles, 27.5 tackles for loss, and 18.5 sacks, defended two passes, and forced one fumble while starting 11 games.

More than anything, Charlton showed progression throughout his career, playing his best football late in his final season, leaving hope that his best football is ahead of him. The Cowboys haven’t had a player record double-digit sacks in the past three seasons, and they’re hoping Charlton can fill that role.

Charlton is the first Michigan player selected by the Cowboys since Tony Boles in 1991. He joins Peppers to give Michigan two first-round picks in the same draft for the first time since 2005 when Braylon Edwards and Marlin Jackson were selected by the Cleveland Browns (third) and Indianapolis Colts (29th).

Michigan has a potential for 11 more players to be drafted in the final six rounds of the draft, which continues on Friday evening with rounds two and three. Chris Wormley, Amara Darboh, Jourdan Lewis, Jake Butt, and Ben Gedeon are Wolverines who could hear their names called on Friday night.

Jabrill Peppers drafted 25th overall by Cleveland Browns

Thursday, April 27th, 2017


Entering Thursday night’s NFL Draft, many wondered if Michigan’s do-everything star Jabrill Peppers would fall out of the first round after submitting a diluted sample at the NFL Combine. The Cleveland Browns ended that speculation by drafting the East Orange, N.J. native 25th overall.

Peppers was the Big Ten Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year last season, the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year, the Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year, a unanimous All-American, and finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy running. He also won the Paul Hornung award as the nation’s most versatile player and the Lott Trophy as college football’s defensive impact player, which recognizes character in addition to talent.

Peppers played all over the field for the Wolverines, impacting the game in all three phases. In 2016, he recorded 72 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, four sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception while playing linebacker. On offense, he rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns, and in the return game he averaged 26 yards per kick return and 14.8 yards per punt return, taking one all the way for a touchdown.

The Browns made a big splash on the draft’s first day, taking Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett with the first overall pick, snatching Peppers, then trading back into the first round to select Miami tight end David Njoku 29th.

Peppers is a nice piece for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ blitz-happy defense. Williams is known for his exotic schemes, and having a player like Peppers who can move all over the field can help with that. Browns head coach Hue Jackson has also said that he’ll give Peppers a chance to play some offense.

Peppers is Michigan’s first first-round pick since Taylor Lewan was selected 11th overall by the Tennessee Titans in 2014. He’s the first Michigan player drafted by the Browns since receiver Braylon Edwards was drafted third overall in 2005.

New in Blue: 2018 DBs Gemon & German Green

Thursday, April 20th, 2017


(Rivals)

Gemon Green – CB | 6-2, 165 | DeSoto, Texas (DeSoto)
ESPN4-star, #42 CB Rivals: 3-star, N/A 247: 3-star, #35 CB Scout: 4-star, 17 CB
247 Composite: 3-star #32 CB, #338 nationally
Other top offers: TCU, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Wisconsin

Just two days before crossing the Atlantic for the final week of spring practice in Rome, Italy, Jim Harbaugh picked up a commitment from a pair of twins. Gemon and German Green of DeSoto, Texas pledged their commitment to the Wolverines on Thursday afternoon.

Gemon Green is a four-star according to ESPN and Scout and a three-star per 247 and Rivals. Scout has him ranked the highest by far as the 17th-best cornerback in the 2018 class and the 181st-best player in the class. 247 ranks him as the 35th-best corner and 369th overall, while ESPN ranks him 42nd. Rivals hasn’t released its rankings yet.

Scout lists Green’s strengths as ball skills, body control, burst out of breaks, and size while listing his area to improve as backpedal quickness. Scout’s Greg Powers expanded on that in his analysis.

“If you are looking with a cornerback with plus size and the ability to lockdown the opposition’s No. 1 target, the[n] Green is a [corner] who is battle tested doing just that week in and week out. He also faces the best competition in practice each and every day as DeSoto sent multiple receiver to the P5 level. He is good playing close to the line of scrimmage with his long arms and physical style of play or he can drop back and be an effective zone-style defensive back. He reacts quickly and can make plays on the ball. He is more of a coverage guy, but does have the size to be an effective tackler.”

Green chose Michigan over TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Colorado, Oregon, and Wisconsin, to name a few. Michigan was one of the first big schools to offer Green. When the Wolverines extended the offer on Feb. 7 he held offers from Colorado, TCU, and a few smaller schools. But his offer sheet started to blow up after that. He earned MVP of The Opening Dallas Regional in early March, earning an invitation to The Opening Finals from June 28-July 3.

German Green – CB/S | 6-2, 168 | DeSoto, Texas (DeSoto)
ESPNNR Rivals: 3-star, N/A 247: 3-star, #74 CB Scout: 3-star, 62 S
247 Composite: 3-star #87 CB, #812 nationally
Other top offers: Tennessee, Colorado, Oklahoma State, Houston, SMU, Fresno State, New Mexico

German Green is a three-star according to Rivals, 247, and Scout, and currently not rated according to ESPN. Scout ranks him as the 62nd-best safety in the 2018 class, while 247 ranks him as the 74th-best cornerback. He’s the 87th-best corner and 812th-best overall player in the class according to the 247 Composite.

Green picked up his Michigan offer on March 16, about a month after his brother, and that was enough to convince the package deal to head north. Green also held offers from Tennessee, Colorado, Oklahoma State, and Houston, to name a few.

The Green twins are the sixth and seventh commitments in Michigan’s 2018 class, joining fellow cornerback Myles Sims, defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, linebacker Otis Reese, offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor, and running back Christian Turner.

New in Blue: 2018 CB Myles Sims

Friday, April 7th, 2017


(Scout.com)

Myles Sims – CB | 6-2, 173 | Atlanta, Ga. (Westlake)
ESPN4-star, #17 CB Rivals: 4-star, #8 CB 247: 3-star, #38 CB Scout: 4-star, 11 CB
247 Composite: 4-star #17 CB, #133 nationally
Other top offers: Alabama, Auburn, USC, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, LSU, Stanford, Florida, Georgia

Michigan picked up its first football commitment in a month and a half when Georgia cornerback Myles Sims pledged to the Wolverines on Friday afternoon. He announced his intention to play in Ann Arbor on Twitter.

Sims is a four-star according to ESPN, Rivals, and Scout, and a three-star according to 247. Rivals ranks him the highest as the 8th-best corner in the 2018 class, while Scout ranks him 11th, ESPN 17th, and 247 38th. Nationally, Rivals has him as the 51st-best overall player in the class, while Scout has him 80th, ESPN 211th, and 247 390th. According to the 247 Composite, Sims is the 17th-best cornerback and the 133rd-best player in the class.

The Westlake High prospect chose Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines over his home state Georgia Bulldogs. He holds offers from most of the major powers including Alabama, USC, Oklahoma, LSU, Stanford, and Florida, to name a few.

Scout likes Sims’ frame, length, and coverage skills while noting that he’ll have to add some strength, which is expected from most players coming out of high school. They expanded on that in their analysis.

“Sims is a long and rangy defensive back with the ability to play cornerback or free safety on the next level. With Sims, what stands out immediately is his frame and length. He covers a lot of ground and he can get his hands on a lot of footballs in coverage. He is still thin, so he needs to add mass and strength, but that should come in time. In coverage, he is best when playing off coverage. He can still improve his quickness in short space. He has great body control, he can make plays on the ball and he is a very smart defensive back in coverage. His tackling is solid.”

Sims is the fourth member of Michigan’s 2018 class, joining fellow Georgian, linebacker Otis Reese, offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor, and defensive end Aidan Hutchinson.

New in Blue: 2017 WR Nico Collins

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017


Nico Collins – WR | 6-5, 195 | Pinson, Ala. (Clay-Chalkville)
ESPN4-star, #21 WR Rivals: 4-star, #17 WR 247: 4-star, #29 WR Scout: 4-star, 24 WR
247 Composite: 4-star #23 WR, #136 nationally
Other top offers: Georgia, Alabama, Clemson, FSU, LSU, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Florida, Miami, Auburn

After plucking five-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon out of SEC country on Wednesday morning, Jim Harbaugh won another highly prized recruit right out of the back yard of the big boys in the SEC on Wednesday afternoon. Nico Collins pledged to the Wolverines on National Signing Day, capping the best recruiting classes in program history. He then announced it via Twitter.

Collins is a consensus four-star recruit according to the four major recruiting services and they’re all pretty much in agreement about where he is ranked. Rivals ranks him the highest as the nation’s 17th-best receiver, while ESPN ranks him 21st, Scout lists him 24th, and 247 has him 29th. Nationally, Rivals ranks him 120th, ESPN 150th, Scout 178th, and 247 200th. According to the 247 Composite, he’s the nation’s 23rd-best receiver and 136th-best overall player in the class.

Collins chose Michigan over Georgia and his home-state Alabama Crimson Tide. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound receiver also held offers from most of the South’s top programs including Clemson, Florida State, LSU, Ole Miss, Florida, Auburn, Miami, and more.

Scout lists Collins’ strengths as catching in traffic, hands and concentration, red zone weapon, size, and toughness, while listing his area to improve as elusiveness with catch. Scout praises his ability to make plays and be a deep threat, something Michigan’s passing offense has sorely lacked in recent years.

“An outside wide receiver who has shown the ability to make plays down the field or across the middle. A very dependable wideout who catches the ball well in traffic. Has ideal size and length. Is more of a deep threat. Likes to run deep routes and can get behind defenders. A long strider who covers a lot of ground. Not elite quickness. Solid blocker and a very tough wide receiver.”

Collins joins a great receiving class that includes the nation’s top receiver, Donovan Peoples-Jones, as well as Tarik Black, Oliver Martin, and Brad Hawkins to round out Michigan’s 2017 recruiting class.

New in Blue (again): 2017 DT Aubrey Solomon

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017


(247 Sports)

Aubrey Solomon – DT | 6-3, 305 | Leesburg, Ga. (Lee County)
ESPN4-star, #5 DT Rivals: 5-star, #2 DT 247: 5-star, #5 DT Scout: 5-star, #2 DT
247 Composite: 5-star #2 DT, #25 nationally
Other top offers: Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Ohio State, Ole Miss, FSU, Florida, USC, Clemson

Michigan kicked off National Signing Day by landing its biggest fish left on the board. Leesburg, Ga. defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon committed to the Wolverines for the second time just before 10am Wednesday morning on ESPNU — and this time it’s for good.

Solomon had long been considered a Georgia or Alabama lean as he lives less than 200 miles from Athens and 250 miles from Tuscaloosa, but the 6-foot-3, 305-pound senior-to-be decided to head north instead after a long and winding recruitment. He first committed to Michigan last June following Jim Harbaugh’s satellite camp at his high school in Leesburg, Ga.

“I was in love with the football aspect of Georgia,” Solomon said at the time. “I was cool with players there, but at the end of the day, it comes down to what will help me 10 years, 20 years after football and Michigan provides the best opportunities for me.”

But he decommitted just two months later after Michigan mistakenly sent him a thank you for attending the summer barbecue, which he didn’t attend. They also spelled his name wrong. However, the work Harbaugh’s staff has done in the five months since then was enough to get him to re-up with the Wolverines.

Solomon is a five-star recruit according to three of the four major recruiting services with ESPN the lone outlier listing him as a four star. When he originally committed last June all four had him as a four-star. Rivals and Scout rank him the highest as the second-best defensive tackle in the 2017 class, while ESPN and 247 rank him fifth. Nationally, Scout has him the highest as the 11th-best recruit in the class. 247 lists him 30th, Rivals 31st, and ESPN 63rd. The 247 Composite has Solomon 25th overall and second-best defensive tackle.

Scout lists his strengths as athleticism, lateral range, quickness off ball, and suddenness, while listing his area to improve as pad level. They elaborate on that as well.

“An athletic defensive lineman who knows how to get off the ball. He is most effective with his quickness. He has good anticipation and he reacts quickly in the trenches. Really gets up the field. Can make plays in the backfield. Gets consistent penetration. Can use his hands, but needs to improve that, and his moves to counter offensive linemen. When he struggles, he tends to play high, so he can work on bettering his pad level. Just a quick defensive lineman who can make plays. Plays hard and plays fast for a guy his size.”

Solomon boasted offers from most of the major powers in the south, including Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Florida State, Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, in addition to Ohio State, USC, and more. He’s the seventh defensive lineman in the class, joining Corey Malone-Hatcher, Deron Irving-Bey, Kwity Paye, James Hudson, Luiji Vilain, and Donovan Jeter, and he’s the second-highest ranked player in the class behind receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones.

New in Blue: 2017 WR Oliver Martin

Monday, January 30th, 2017


(US Army All-American Bowl)

Oliver Martin – WR | 6-0, 188 | Iowa City, Iowa (West Senior)
ESPN4-star, #60 WR Rivals: 4-star, #35 WR 247: 4-star, #7 WR Scout: 4-star, 30 WR
247 Composite: 4-star #28 WR, #178 nationally
Other top offers: Notre Dame, Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oregon, Wisconsin, BYU

Michigan got most of its recruiting done before National Signing Day, leaving few surprises for Wednesday, and that trend continued on Monday night as Jim Harbaugh and staff stole a commitment from the backyard of another Big Ten school. Iowa City native Oliver Martin committed to the Wolverines at his high school with Harbaugh and new assistant head coach/passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton in attendance. He then announced it via Twitter.

Martin is a consensus four-star recruit in this year’s class by the four major recruiting services. 247 Sports ranks him the highest as the nation’s seventh-best wide receiver, while Scout ranks him 30th, Rivals 35th, and ESPN 60th. Nationally, 247 ranks him as the 170th-best overall player in the class, Rivals 206th, Scout 216th, and ESPN doesn’t have him in their top 300. He’s the 28th-best receiver and 178th-best overall player in the class per the 247 Composite.

The 6-foot, 188-pound receiver chose the Wolverines over Notre Dame. He also held offers from Ohio State, Michigan State, Oregon, Wisconsin, and BYU, to name a few.

Scout lists Martin’s strengths as competitiveness, hands and concentration, quickness off line, and route-running skills, while listing his area for improvement as frame. That means he’s already pretty polished and could add some muscle to fill out his frame at the college level. Scout expands on that.

“Very skilled, technical wideout. Excellent route runner with great hands and ability to make catches in traffic. Smart and understands how to get open. Very good athlete with good quickness, leaping ability and body control. Competitive, hard working kid. At 6-foot-1, 188 pounds, he has good size, but is not as big in comparison to other top outside receivers.”

With a pair of highly-ranked outside receivers already in the class in Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black, Martin is a perfect compliment as a slot receiver. Michigan hopes to land one more wideout on Wednesday in the form of Alabama native Nico Collins.

The Numbers Game: Despite disappointing finish, U-M showed drastic improvement from Year 1

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017


(MGoBlue.com)

Previously: Is Don Brown’s defense high-risk? The numbers say noMichigan’s Harbaughfense will be more explosive in Year 2, Run game makes big plays in Week 1, While UCF loaded the box Michigan went to the air for big plays, Michigan offense doubles 2015 big play pace through 3 weeks, UM’s smothering defense narrows gap between 2015 D’s big play pace, U-M offense maintains big play pace versus tough Wisconsin D, Michigan out-big-plays Rutgers 16 to 1, Michigan’s big play stats continue to tell good news, U-M offense third most explosive, defense best at preventing big plays, MSU wins big play battle, Michigan wins the war, As big play defense falls back to earth, U-M offense continues to soar, U-M’s dynamic big-play offense stalls in Iowa loss, U-M offense, defense remain among nation’s best entering The Game, U-M big play offense fizzles, defense holds Bucks below average, Michigan big-play offense looks to bounce back vs susceptible FSU big-play defense

Despite losing three out of their last four games, by a total of just five points, Michigan made some big strides in 2016. In this last installment of The Numbers Game I hope to give you some optimism heading into next season, based on the increased offensive and defensive production from Year 1 to Year 2 and we’ll speculate on how Year 3 might look based on Harbaugh’s past.

Let’s get right into it. In the Orange Bowl, Dalvin Cook could not be contained, accounting for six of Florida State’s nine total explosive plays (five run, four pass). Add in a botched kick coverage and Michigan lost another game they should have won. Such is life. Back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in over a decade is very good, though, lest we forget this was a 5-7 team two years ago.

Michigan didn’t manage an explosive play until the third quarter when Wilton Speight hit Ian Bunting for 21 yards on a 4th-and-4 pass. In total, Michigan notched just five total explosive plays (four run and one pass) for their second lowest output of the season. Only their three versus Ohio State was worse. That one can be chalked up to an injured quarterback and this one to Florida State doing what I was worried about the most: lining up DeMarcus Walker on the inside to take advantage of Michigan’s weak offensive guard play. I suspected Kyle Kalis would be exploited but it was true freshman Ben Bredeson who bore the brunt of the future NFL lineman’s wrath.

Regardless, Michigan finished the season with their two worst explosive play performances offensively, while giving up 17 to their opponents (OSU – 8, FSU – 9). Not exactly what we expected given how the season started but it is what it is. But as you’ll see, all is not lost.

Offensive big plays
Michigan offense – 2015 vs 2016 regular season comparison
Year Big Run Plays Big Pass Plays Total Big Plays Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
2016 87 46 133 14.09% 3.71% 56
2015 47 48 95 10.49% -1.01% -3

For the year Michigan finished with 6.69 explosive runs per game (31st nationally) and 3.54 explosive passes (52nd) for a total of 10.23 explosive plays per game (30th). Their big play percentage for was 14.09 percent (35th).

After the hot 9-0 start to the season these numbers may seem a bit disappointing but when comparing them to 2015 the improvement is actually quite remarkable.

The 2015 offense averaged 3.6 explosive runs per game (116th) and 3.7 explosive passes per game (40th) for a total of 7.3 explosive plays per game (100th). Their big play percentage was 10.49 percent (97th).

Michigan improved upon every single offensive big play metric in a huge way, save for passing. But, if you’ll recall the piece on Harbaugh’s San Francisco teams you’d remember that from the year before Harbaugh to Year 1 with Harbaugh the passing game saw a decrease while the running game numbers took a giant leap. And the running game again took a giant leap in Year 2 with passing staying about the same. Remember, Harbaugh is a run-first guy, so we’re not likely to see huge numbers in the explosive pass department. Even his 2010 Stanford team with a returning starter in Andrew Luck averaged just 3.7 explosive passes per game.

In 2010 (pre-Harbaugh), San Francisco had 40 explosive runs and 36 explosive passes. In 2011, SF had 56 explosive runs and 28 explosive passes. Year 2 (2012) saw 81 explosive run plays and 33 explosive passes. The Niners went from 40 to 56 to 81 2010-2012. In Year 2, Harbaugh doubled the explosive run production from the year prior to his arrival.

Michigan’s explosive run numbers took a dip from 72 in 2014 to 47 in 2015, but then shot up to 87 total in Year 2. Progress is being made, and all with a Brady Hoke offensive line. To put in perspective how much of an improvement this is, the 10.23 total explosive plays per game this year is a 40 percent increase on the 7.3 from 2015. And the explosive runs increased by an astounding 86 percent.

Defense saw a similar theme in improvement. Although the numbers improvements were not as dramatic, the rankings were.

Defensive big plays allowed
Michigan defense – 2015 vs 2016 regular season comparison
Year Big Run Plays/gm Big Pass Plays/gm Total Big Plays/gm Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
2016 4.38 2.08 6.46 10.38% 3.71% 56
2015 4.80 2.40 7.20 11.49% -1.01% -3

The Wolverines gave up 4.38 explosive runs per game (35th) and 2.08 explosive passes (3rd) for a total of 6.46 explosive plays per game (11th). Their big play against percentage was 10.38 percent (30th) and their big play differential was 3.71 percent (21st). Total toxic differential was 56, good for eighth on a per game basis. Three of the four playoff teams finished in the top six in toxic differential per game.

In 2015, Michigan gave up 4.8 explosive runs per game (53rd) and 2.4 explosive passes per game (13th) for a total of 7.2 explosive plays per game (24th). Their big play against percentage was 11.49 percent, good for 59th and their big play differential was -1.01 percent (88th). Their total toxic differential was minus-3, good for 75th on a per game basis.

The 2016 defense improved in every single big play metric and saw significant jumps in their rankings as well. But wait, there’s more.

Let’s talk about tackles for loss and sacks. Michigan had 88 tackles for loss in 2015, an average of 6.77 per game. In 2016, they had 120, an average of 9.23 per game and an increase of 36 percent. The sack numbers were even better. In 2015, Michigan had 32 sacks (2.46 per game). In 2016, they had 46 (3.54 per game), an increase of 43.7 percent.

The team rankings show just how much they improved. Sacks went from 31st in total and 32nd per game to fifth in total and fourth per game. Tackles for loss went from 38th in total and 42nd per game to third in total and second per game. Don Brown took this defense from middle of the pack in sacks and TFL to top five in both in just one year.

All but the offensive explosive pass play numbers were improved upon from Year 1 to Year 2. And given Harbaugh’s past record we weren’t expecting the pass numbers to waver much anyway. Remember, Stanford in 2010 (the 12-1 Orange Bowl champion year) averaged 5.8 runs and 3.7 passes. His best passing team in San Francisco (2012) averaged just two explosive pass plays per game. We’re right in the range we can reasonably expect given the roster. Of course, a guy like Brandon Peters or Dylan McCaffrey might add a new wrinkle and we could possibly see an uptick once they take over.

So what sort of improvement, if any, can we expect in Year 3? If Harbaugh’s history shows us anything it’s that this is likely going to be the norm for the offense: around seven explosive runs per game and 3.5 explosive passes per game. Does that mean the offense won’t improve? No, but at this point I don’t think we can expect another drastic improvement. As Harbaugh builds this roster in his image, perhaps we’ll see an uptick, but don’t look for Louisville type numbers (8.5-plus run and 4.5-plus pass). There were only two teams who averaged more than 12 explosive plays per game this season, so hovering around 10.5 keeps Michigan around the top-25 in that category.

The defense ended up right about where we expected, allowing 6.46 explosive plays per game. There’s not much room to improve upon that, or the sack and TFL numbers, from Year 2 to Year 3. But as Don Brown has more time to teach and implement his system we might see Michigan get into the under six explosive plays allowed per game range, which would easily be top five nationally.

So hold your heads up high, Michigan fans, the future is very bright. No, the season didn’t end like we expected, but Jim Harbaugh took a senior class that went 12-13 their first two years and went 20-6 with them, giving Michigan its second coach ever to win 10 games in each of his first two seasons and the first back to back 10-win seasons in over a decade. Until next season, Go Blue!

New in Blue: 2017 OT Chuck Filiaga

Saturday, January 7th, 2017


(247 Sports)

Chuck Filiaga – OT | 6-6, 335 | Aledo, Texas (Aledo)
ESPN4-star, #14 OT Rivals: 4-star, #16 OT 247: 4-star, #13 OT Scout: 4-star, 15 OT
247 Composite: 4-star #14 OT, #98 nationally
Other top offers: Oklahoma, Nebraska, Alabama, Washington, USC, Ole Miss, Oregon, Auburn, Florida, UCLA

While Michigan awaits the decision of the nation’s No. 1 player, running back Najee Harris, the Wolverines received a commitment from another highly-touted guy on Saturday. Offensive tackle Chuck Filiaga pledged his commitment to Jim Harbaugh’s squad during the second quarter of the U.S. Army All-American game.

Filiaga is a consensus four-star recruit according to the four major recruiting services. All have him ranked similarly as 247 Sports ranks him as the 13th-best offensive tackle in the class, ESPN 14th, Scout 15th, and Rivals 16th. Nationally, 247 has him the highest as the 106th-best overall recruit in the class. Rivals ranks him 118th, Scout 125th, and ESPN 137th. He’s the 14th-best offensive tackle and 98th-best overall player in the class according to the 247 Composite.

The Aledo, Texas native chose Michigan over a top three that also included Oklahoma and Nebraska. He also held offers from most of the nation’s best, including Alabama, Washington, USC, Ole Miss, Auburn, Florida, Oregon, and more.

Scout lists Filiaga’s strengths as arm length, power and strength, and size, while noting his area to improve as technique.  Scout’s Greg Biggins expands on that.

“Two way lineman who could play on either side of the ball in college. We like him as an offensive tackle because of his length, long arms and athleticism. He has an ideal tackle frame, shows the feet to kick out and take on speed rushers but the strength to handle bull rushers as well. He is a talented defensive lineman and can get a push off the edge and moves around the line to take advantage of mismatches.”

Filiaga is the 27th member of the class, joining Andrew Stueber, Joel Honigford, Ja’Raymond Hall, Phillip Paea, Kai-Leon Herbert, and Cesar Ruiz as offensive linemen in the class. He’s the 13th commitment on the offensive side of the ball. National Signing Day is just three-and-a-half weeks away, on Feb. 1.